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Why are manners important? Your children use their social skills in all aspects of their lives, from the playground to the classroom, to the workplace. The success of these relationships depend, to a large extent, on their social skills. By teaching your children good manners, you are actually helping your child develop strategies for being successful in their relationships! What are social skills but the skills that enable us to interact easily with other people? And what are manners but behaviours that make other people feel comfortable and appreciated? A child with good manners is a child who knows how to treat other people well and is, therefore, much more likeable as a result. We are not born with good manners. Our children need to be shown over and over how to behave in situations. The table is a good place to start teaching children these skills. Table manners teaches your children courtesy towards other people. In addition, table manners allow children to feel confident, whether they are eating at a friend's place or at a restaurant. Even though your children may be kind and smart, other people will judge them on how they behave. Help them make a good impression by teaching these basic skills. Ways to teach table manners 1. Set a good example. Children learn a lot by watching you so show courtesy to others. Say 'thank you' and 'please'; don't reach across the table for the water, ask someone to pass it to you. 2. Keep it simple. Aim to master one or two manners at a time before adding a new skill or situation to master. 3. Rehearse. Have special dress-up family dinners on a regular basis with good dinnerware, tablecloth and napkins. Invite friends or relatives and ask everyone to make a point of being on their best behaviour. Make it fun! 4. Use a reward system. What about a jellybean jar for each child, and adding a jellybean for each polite behaviour observed at the table. Allow them to eat some for dessert. For people who don't want to encourage eating sweets, use some other form of reward system. 5. Have 'What if' scenarios. 'What would you do if you drop your spoon on the floor?' 'What would you do if you hate the dinner someone served?' 6. Praise efforts. Recognise and praise your children's efforts. 7. Print the rules. Make or buy placemats with table manners printed on them. Get the kids involved in making and decorating the placemats. Have a fun quiz over dinner to see who remembers the most rules. So where do you start? Talk to your kids about these basic rules and explain why they should do it. For example, table

manners are about showing consideration for the other people around the table and not doing anything that would turn them off their food. 1. Eat with cutlery unless the food is meant to be eaten with fingers. 2. Don't put too much food in your mouth. 3. Chew with your mouth closed. 4. Don't talk with lots of food in your mouth. 5. Keep your elbows close to your sides. 6. Don't say anything bad about the meal even if you didn't like it. 7. Always say 'thank you' when served something. 8. Wait until mom or the host starts eating before you start eating. 9. Don't use a knife to put food in your mouth. Use a spoon or fork. 10. Keep your elbows off the table. 11. Don't reach over the table for something. Politely ask for it to be passed to you. 12. Do not pick anything out of your teeth. If it bothers you, ask to be excused and go to the bathroom to get it out. 13. Napkins should always be on your lap. It is there to dab your face if you get a bit of sauce, etc, on it. 14. When eating at someone's home, always thank the host for the meal. Even if you didn't like it, someone took a lot of time to prepare it so show appreciation. 15. Always ask 'May I be excused?' or 'May I go?' before leaving the table. Teaching your children table manners is an important social skill they can use throughout their lives. Once mastered, it won't be forgotten - rather like riding a bike. And it only takes a few minutes a day, or a couple of nights a week.

Do you wish parenting wasn't so difficult? It doesn't have to be! There are just 5 key principles that you have to master in order to raise a well adjusted family with a minimum of stress. Read more articles on these principles at 5 Keys Parenting.

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Teaching Children Table Manners  

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